You see the empty chairs at work, the long lines at the pharmacy, and maybe even the mountain of tissues in your own home - the cold and flu viruses are going around. But there are some new services in Arizona that claim to take the hassle out of being sick.
What if you could get a prescription by just picking up the phone, or cut your emergency room wait time in half by going online?
"A very large increase in flu, a very large increase, probably the worst I've seen, and it's true, in about four years," said Jim Prohaska with Mountain Vista Medical Center. He said their emergency room has been flooded with cold and flu cases. A lot of people don't have health insurance, so they wait for care until they feel they can't wait anymore. Also, he said general practitioners are overwhelmed, so people can't get appointments.
But it's causing longer wait times, in a state that's already the third-worst when it comes to that. On average, expect to sit around for more than five hours. But Prohaska said that may become a thing of the past.
"You go online and you can sign up for a time to come in to the ER to see our docs," Prohaska said.
Enter ArizonaER.com, a new online check-in for three valley hospitals, including Mountain Vista.
"It's a lot more convenient to wait at home, it's a lot more comfortable to wait at home and, honestly, if you're waiting in a waiting room full of people, it's not fun," Prohaska said. And even though they provide masks, it's not always sanitary, either. Of course, if your condition may be life-threatening, the website will tell you to come in immediately.
"It's going to ask you for the reason for the visit, and this is where it does that screening piece, certain key words, if it catches bleeding, chest pain," Prohaska said.
If you don't need face-to-face, emergency care, starting next week you can pick up the phone and call an Apogee doctor on call. You describe your symptoms over the phone, and they'll call in a routine, non-narcotic prescription, if necessary. If you're looking for Vicodin, Viagra, or even cough syrup with codeine - this isn't for you.
But if you do end up in the emergency room, Prohaska said as long as you don't have an infection, he'll just tell you follow mom's orders.
"You want to make sure you're well rested, lots of fluids, and a healthy and balanced diet," Prohaska said.
The flu should last seven to 10 days, so if you're within that window, there's not much they can do for you.
Apogee Doctor on call costs $50 a call, but it shouldn't replace your primary care doctor. ArizonaER.com is free.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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